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Politics and Society > Ramin Jahanbegloo: «Spain should democratize democracy»

Ramin Jahanbegloo: «Spain should democratize democracy»

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In Barcelona, 15th of June. The Iranian intellectual Ramin Jahanbegloo has delivered a lecture at Casa Asia about «Current Non Violent Movements and Gandhi's Legacy», and it is impossible not to turn towards the social movement that has gone from Catalunya Square to the Parliament. A good day to make clear what non violence actually means and what part of Gandhi's thought is alive, not only in the East, but also in Europe and even in the Arab world.

It is just in this last part of the world where the first issue of non violence together with popular revolution is suggested: «Is it possible to carry out a transition to democracy in a peaceful way?», Jahanbegloo wonders. And the immediate reference of the square of Tunisia seems to be a clear affirmative answer. But Professor Jahanbegloo also separates forms and purposes of every revolution, remembering that those vindications are very different to the ones we have here: «Spain should democratize democracy». There is another more philosophical issue: Current politics is based on the need of a sovereign state as an absolute power. «Is it necessary to always follow this model? What alternatives to power exist?», the lecturer wonders. And he holds that the case of Gandhi in India, of Dalai Lama in Tibet, of so many «Muslim Gandhis» that have the voice in modern history show that it is possible to question that power is always right. Shared sovereignty is not a unique case in history, he affirms, and remembers Martin Luther King and South Africa or Poland, among others. Gandhi's message links democracy to the action of citizens and social and political actors and not to the State.

But Jahanbegloo's speech does not confront politics, it's the opposite: «How can we maintain the passion for our politics as we broaden our political responsability?», he asks. And in his answer there are more duties of citizens than rights, action joined to non violence more than resistance; his tone is stubborn when he talks about conformism and he gets fascinated again when he mentions 15M as a close, clear and current example of recovered real democracy. «We have to stop being affraid of the State, we shouldn't be affraid when we fight against any form of injustice», he firmly holds. And he adds: «It is not necessary to be tied to politics, it is a movement that is self-democratized».

The ideal Gandhian complement for this non violent participation of society would be «eticalization» (and not moralization, he clarifies) and the spiritualization (and not the sacralization) of politics. Progess has been related to the advance of science and technology. Here, the intellectual, Indologist, considers it necessary to quote Gandhi: «Civilization itself is the moral progress of humanity», and this is the base of the global strategy to build peace.

And he ends recognizing in the 15M movement the elements of the «trinity» of the Gandhian thought: swaraj (‘self-government’), which works to achieve a small-scale decentralizing social transformation; satyagrha (resistance), that he used to begin his struggle for freedom before colonialism and, finally, sarvodaya (the elevation of everything). This concept holds that the western government system is based, still today, on the rule of the majority, the called «democracy». But Gandhi remembers that he wanted to be at the service of everyone's interests: everyone's.

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